New and Correct Map of the Lines of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Fall 1883

New and Correct Map of the Lines of the Northern Pacific Railroad and Oregon Railway & Navigation Co. Fall, 1883, November
Rand McNally & Co., Engraver
color lithograph, double sided and originally folded into its own paper covers
Professionally conserved
professionally flattened and conserved, complete, good color and condition, paper shows toning and several age spots, fine repairs at fold lines of paper covers and elsewhere
Dimensions: 
15.625 × 43.625 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale
Price: 
$3,200.00

This New and Correct Map of the Northern Pacific Railroad is the Fall, 1883, November edition of the map that announces the completion by the Northern Pacific Railroad of the first northern transcontinental route from St. Paul, Minnesota through the northwestern territories to Portland, Oregon. The final spike ceremony for the line had been held on September 8, 1883 in Gold Creek, Montana with more work yet to be done. 1/ The ultimate goal as outlined in the Northern Pacific Railroad's 1864 Congressional charter was a rail connection between the Great Lakes and Puget Sound. This goal took until 1888 to complete. 2/ This November, 1883 edition of the New and Correct Map of the Lines of the Northern Pacific Railroad is both early in the new road's debut and scarce, as is the graphic device along the bottom of the map showing the railroad cars of the Northern Pacific Express pulled by locomotive No. 285. I have located two other 1883 issues of this map, one titled "Fall 1883, September" and the other "1883". 3/

By design, this large railroad map folded into its own illustrated paper covers. The map is double-sided. States and Canadian provinces are outlined in green on the map. Topography and places are finely drawn and labeled.  The large swath of land grant territory along the entire railroad path is shown with a gray tone. Two text panels accompany the map: one advertises "Lands for Sale" and the other "Information for Settlers."  There are twenty-three titled panels on the verso. Eight panels have railroad timetables and ferry routes. Four  illustrated panels show sites along the line. One vignette shows a cowboy herding cattle in "Cattle Country." Another presents the Union Depot in St. Paul, Minnesota, the nexus for east/west train travel. The two covers are illustrated with local scenery.  A bird's eye view permits us to see inside "New Pullman Palace Sleeping Cars" with chandelier lighting, upholstered seating and wood paneled walls that conceal the beds. There is an inset view in the sleeping car vignette labeled "Smoking Room" of seated men in conversation with newspapers in hand, smoking materials and a spittoon or ashcan. A final vignette shows the Dining Car with its white jacketed waiters serving guests at table. Meals are advertised as "75 Cents Each...substantial, delicate, and the choicest of luxuries of the season...."

The New and Correct Map of the Lines of the Northern Pacific Railroad 1883 is very much a passenger route map of a railroad under construction.4/ The map's key shows railroad routes as lines drawn both in black and red. Black lines of various shapes in the key denote lines completed, under construction, proposed and to be constructed.5/ The Northern Pacific map key demonstrates that the rail line was in 1883, November still improvising to fulfill the obligations of its 1864 Charter.  Some lines on this map go north into British Columbia mining and timber territory, including a coastal route from Tacoma to New Westminster. Red lines indicate the steamship connection from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, California and smaller inland rail connections owned by other entities that were essential to this first northwest transcontinental rail connection albeit one not yet completely built or owned by the Northern Pacific Railroad.  In October, 1883 the Northern Pacific Railroad's service was greatly expanded when the upper Missouri River in Dakota Territory was spanned for the first time by the Bismarck-Mandan Bridge built specifically for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Our map shows a solid "constructed" rail line over the Missouri River at this location. The Bismarck-Mandan Bridge for the first time opened the Pacific Northwest Indian Territory by train to American emigration and settlement and commercial opportunity. As of April, 2021 this historic bridge was still standing, although threatened with demolition. 6/

The Northern Pacific Fall, 1883 United States map is more than a railroad route map.  This 1883 map is a progress report on westward migration and of the United States government's program to finance the surveying and construction of privately owned railroads by seizing and converting native American lands to new commercial and other national purposes. Land grants in 1864 from the United States Congress to the newly chartered Northern Pacific Railway Company consisted of almost forty million acres to be used for sale, financing and construction of the Northern Pacific line. These vast land grants along the road are represented with a prominent grey overlay. Thus, this map represents in practice the 19th c. federal policy for financing railroad construction and American westward migration in the country's final undeveloped territory, the Pacific Northwest. The Northern Pacific's 1883 groundbreaking route along the 49th parallel as shown on the map opened millions of acres in the Northwest Territories to purchase and settlements by emigrants from the East and Central states, and to investors from throughout the country and from abroad.

The map illustrates that the Northern Pacific new railroad route located along the 49th parallel required a taking of Native American lands. The new route surveys relied in part on the 1804-1806 surveys of Lewis and Clark of traditional Native American trading routes through a challenging northwestern geography and topography. This 1883 map rests on the practice if not the premise of forcible federal displacement of Native Americans to permit railroad company surveying and construction. As the Northern Pacific Express departs Union Depot, St. Paul, Minnesota westbound it transports the policies in Minnesota of Native American extermination and removal that reached a climax in 1865.7/ This map is a route map of displacement.

The informative panels on the front and verso of this 1883 map tell a story which itself has a verso. The New and Correct Map of the Lines of the Northern Pacific is flanked by two panels with text, one titled "Lands for Sale" on the left of the map and the other "Information for Settlers" on the right. This text is advertising by the Northern Pacific Railroad at the train ticket window to its own passengers as potential land buyers and settlers. The text explains these lands are "The Great New Northern Pacific Country", where "The Best Homes for 10,000,000 People now await occupancy." The numbers are staggering. The promotion reinforces the message with "2,000,000 Families 10,000,000 Souls" can find inexpensive land and new homes. Land is priced east of the Missouri at $2.60 to $4.00 per acre. West of the Missouri River land is $2.60 to $6.00 an acre. On the verso, one panel explains that the Devil's Lake, Turtle Mountain and Mouse River country "by a wise decree of the Hon. Secretary of the Interior, are made Free and Open to Everybody". Another panel promotes land purchases for cattle grazing and stock raising in Cattle Country, namely Western Dakota, Northern Montana and Idaho. We are told "Although the ranges are being rapidly taken up,...there is still plenty of room in the territories for more cattle, and capital is rapidly seeking investment in stock." The railroad encourages investors with facts: in 1881 it transported "only about 12,000 head of cattle from this territory" and in 1882 the railroad carried 30,000 head of cattle to stockyards in the Midwest. As of May 1st reports, according to the Northern Pacific map text there are 525,000 cattle in the district.

The language of these panels on the verso of the Northern Pacific map expresses an ahistorical view, or perhaps it is fairer to say a future looking only point of view. The map covers' artwork includes an element -  a solid black line with white circles - that is precisely the symbol in the map key for "Completed Roads" here employed pictorially to illustrate that it is the Northern Pacific Railroad that can take you into the future.

The future contains lands celebrated as free to everyone courtesy of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The omitted past, or verso of this history is that these lands were still monetarily valuable enough to justify sending in the U.S. Army to clear the acreage of occupants.  Land that the company encourages investors to populate with cattle is shown on the map covers as beautiful wilderness populated with wildlife. The map cover vignettes show the ancient Yellowstone geyser juxtaposed with the recently changed landscape of a farmer harvesting the fields of his western homestead in a horse drawn harvester. A bound sheaf of wheat adorns the title on the map covers. The message on the map and its covers is "this land shall be domesticated".

The future created by the railroad as shown on New and Correct Map of the Lines of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Fall, 1883, came quickly partly in anticipation of the completion of the line at Puget Sound. Puget Sound was reached in 1888.  This transit link brought migration and investment to formerly interior territories. Dakota achieved statehood in 1889 for North and South Dakota. Montana achieved statehood in 1889. Wyoming and Idaho became states in 1890.  Washington was admitted as a state in 1889. Oregon had achieved statehood in 1859.

The New and Correct Map of the Lines of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Fall 1883 November is genuinely new mapping of a new phenomenon in the American northwest, the transcontinental railroad. This 1883 map in two dimensions encompasses extraordinary engineering feats in three dimensions such as the 1,800 foot long O'Keefe Canyon Trestle and the 3,850 Mullan Pass Tunnel. The map lifts the cultural milestones of Native American people to make way for a railroad financed with the sale of their lands. Cartographically, the map expresses the dynamism of later 19th c. American engineering, capitalism and politics wrestling to unite disparate national interests to build a transcontinental country.

Notes:

1. The missing section at Ainsworth Wallula Junction would require another five years to build. In 1884, construction began on the Cascade line.

2. The line crossed the Cascade Mountains by a 1.8 mile long tunnel to Puget Sound that the first train passed through on May 27, 1888.

3. The Library of Congress example of this map is shown front image only. A curatorial note states there is a manuscript date October 1883. The Yale University Library Collections example is photographed front and back, and dated on the verso on the map cover "Fall, 1883, September." On initial comparison this version appears to be substantially similar to the Fall, 1883, November map on offer.

4. By contrast, the 1882 map Northern Pacific Co. Completed Road September 5th, 1882 maps initial progress constructing the rail road but it is not a passenger route map. Northern Pacific Railroad Co.--completed road, September 5th, 1882. | Library of Congress

5. The map title's reference to the Oregon Railway & Navigation Co. explains ownership of these essential links to the Pacific Coast. Ownership and control of the Northern Pacific Railroad changed hands several times. The Oregon Railway & Navigation Co. played a role in these ownership changes.

6. Historic Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge one step closer to demolition - Railway Track and Structures Support the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge

7. Please see the 1865 history of the Mankato, Minnesota Jewett Massacre.

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